Sleep, sleep, sleep….
We know it is important yet so many of us are “sleep procrastinators”. We get everything we need to get done for the day and then we want “me time” so we push back our bedtime to catch up on our favorite show, scroll through instagram, or read a book. So the question is, how important is sleep? Is it worth skimming on to do more of the things we enjoy?
Here is a quick recap on the benefits of adequate/good quality sleep:
- Our body recovers, heals, and rejuvenates as we sleep
- Cognitive function is enhanced; as we sleep we store memories and consolidate + learn new information
- Sleep is essential for maintaining a healthy immune system
- Sleep helps regulate our appetite hormones and metabolism
Maybe you wouldn’t classify yourself as a “sleep procrastinator”. You know sleep is important and you try to do all the “right things”- yet you struggle to fall or stay asleep. There are several reasons you may be struggling with insomnia and you are not alone with up to 50% of Americans struggling with insomnia symptoms at some point in their life. However uncovering the root cause for your insomnia is essential in Functional Medicine. Here are some possible causes:
- Anxiety/cortisol imbalances
- Low progesterone/menstrual cycle changes
- Low melatonin production
- Blood sugar imbalances
- Poor sleeping environment- room is too hot, loud background noise, not dark enough, etc
The truth is no matter how we spin it, the importance of good quality sleep cannot be overstated. We know sleep is one of the key components to health and longevity. People that do not get the recommended 7-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep are at increased risk for obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. Not to mention mental health concerns such as depression and anxiety. Studies have found that people who are sleep-deprived are more likely to be absent from work, have a lower productivity level, and make more mistakes.
What are some things you can do to start optimizing your sleep tonight?
- Establish a regular sleep schedule: Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, including weekends. This will help regulate your body’s internal clock and make it easier to fall asleep at night. Some specialist would argue sleep consistency is more important than the actual hours of sleep per night.
- Create a relaxing bedtime routine: Develop a relaxing bedtime routine that you can do every night before you go to bed. This could include reading a book, taking a warm bath, or listening to soothing music.
- Make your sleeping environment comfortable: Keep your bedroom dark, quiet, and at a comfortable temperature. Many experts recommend the ideal sleeping temperature is 65-67 F
- Ensure your mattress and pillows are comfortable and supportive.
- Limit the use of electronic devices before bed: The blue light emitted by electronic devices can suppress the production of melatonin, which is the hormone that regulates sleep. Avoid using electronic devices such as smartphones, tablets, and computers at least one hour before bedtime.
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol: Avoid consuming caffeine at least 6 hours before bedtime and keep alcohol in moderation as we know these substances can interfere with sleep, making it harder to fall asleep (or stay asleep).
- Get regular exercise: Regular exercise has been shown to improve sleep quality. However, try to avoid vigorous exercise close to bedtime as it can make it harder to fall asleep.
- Practice relaxation techniques: Practicing relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, yoga, or meditation can help to reduce stress and tension, which can make it easier to fall asleep.
- Consider using a white noise machine or earplugs: White noise machines or earplugs can help to block out noise
When all that fails, consider trying our favorite natural sleep supplement called You’re a Knockout. We recommend 1-2 capsules at night as needed. This formula is melatonin free for those that are sensitive. As a practice, we haven’t had our patients report any crazy dreams, waking after a couple hours, or feeling groggy in the morning with THIS product which is also a plus. As with anything we recommend, make sure you to consult your healthcare provider before adding something new to your routine.
Want a more personalized approach and to explore whether hormonal imbalances are playing a role in your sleep quality, book an appointment with us HERE.
In good health,
Kristin Oja, DNP, FNP-C, IFMCP
CEO + Founder